Can You Change a Chain Drive Garage Door Opener to a Belt Drive? 

You’re not alone if you’re tired of that loud crashing sound your garage door makes when opening. Many homeowners are switching to belt drives for a quieter, more efficient open. 

Chain drive garage door openers can easily be replaced with quieter, more reliable belt drive models. Replacement is best with two people, and expect to take an afternoon to install. Belt drive openers are desired when there are living quarters above the garage due to their quieter operation.

To understand which is best for you, read on to learn the details of the two main types of garage door openers, chain and belt drives. You’ll see if belt drives are right for you and how easy it is to switch to one and transform your garage. 

Chain Drive VS Belt Drive Openers and Changing Them

How Do Chain Drive Garage Openers Work? 

Chain drive garage openers work like a bicycle’s chain. The chain is fitted to an electric motor and drive sprocket. When the chain moves, it completes a circle around another sprocket across from the drive track. That moves the trolley and the garage door, lifting and lowering it. 

How Do Belt Drive Garage Openers Work?

Belt drive openers work exactly the same as chain drives, except instead of chains, it’s a rubber belt that moves the trolley and lifts the door. 

Because of their similar functionalities, chain drives and belt drives are interchangeable, and it’s also relatively easy to replace them yourself. 

Although they work the same, they both have their own set of pros and cons. These are important to consider before choosing or replacing your garage door opener. 

Should I Replace My Chain Drive for a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener? 

The weight of the door is the most significant factor to consider when deciding on a garage door opener. 

Opt for the chain drive for larger doors, including 2- and 3- car garage doors and heavy wooden ones. They are equipped to handle all types of garage doors with ease. 

When you have a 1- car or lightweight 2- car garage door, belt drives are the way to go if you’re willing to spend a little extra money. 

While they’re the more expensive option, belt drives make up for it with low maintenance requirements. You’ll rarely have to service your belt drive in the 10+ years of its expected lifespan. 

Chain belt drives, in comparison, are more prone to issues due to friction from their metal components. You’re more likely to have to repair chain drives, and their lifespan is generally shorter than their belt alternative. 

For your 1- car garage, you’ll find the belt drive system is superior. Not just from its low maintenance but from its quietness and ease of use. 

Because the system uses a rubber belt, this garage door opener is virtually silent. It’s excellent for houses with bedrooms above the garage or for anyone who hates the jarringly loud sounds of a chain drive garage door. They can also be fitted with smart technology so you can open and close the door from a device like your cellphone. 

How to Replace Your Chain Drive Garage Door Opener with a Belt Drive

Man standing on a ladder replacing a mechanical garage door opener

Replacing your chain drive for a belt drive is relatively easy. A lot of belt drive manufacturers include do-it-yourself instructions with their products.  

I’ve made a step-by-step list below that covers just about every belt drive installation process, with a few differences according to brand. Always follow your manufacturer’s labels first. 

  1. First, unplug the electric motor and remove it from the ceiling, including the main rail and its chain attached to the door and supported by the curved door arm. 
  2. Assemble the new rail, placing the segment with the trolley opening closest to the door. Attach it to the new motor on the ground. 
  3. Fit the trolley onto the rail, placing it through the end closest to the motor and sliding it down to the other end. 
  4. Place the U-bracket on that closest end and fasten it to the motor using the nuts, bolts, or screws provided by the manufacturer. 
  5. Feed about 1-foot of the rubber belt through the opening in the front rail, the one closest to the door. 
  6. Place and fasten the idler pulley horizontally in the slot right behind the opening. 
  7. Take the end of the belt you’ve pulled through 1 foot and attach it to a tab on the trolley. The manufacturer’s instructions will show you exactly where that is. 
  8. Pull the trolley towards the motor to test the belt’s movements.  
  • If it’s moving erratically, remove the idler pulley, add grease or lube to the inner circle, replace, and try again. 
  1. Take the other end of the belt and wrap it around the pulley on the motor until it creates a complete circle ending at the trolley. You will use the manufacturer’s instructions to secure the pin holding the belt to the trolley. 
  2. Adjust the belt’s tension until you can easily fit a finger between the belt and the metal track. 
  3. Place and secure the cap onto the belt drive of the motor. 
  4. Install the bracket to the wall above the garage door. Use a clevis pin to attach the metal track (with the rubber belt and trolley fitted) to the bracket, so it stays put.  
  • At this point, your motor will still be on the floor, and the metal bracket will reach upward and attach to the wall. 
  1. Next, lift the new motor and attach it to the brackets your old one was fitted to. Reattach the curved door arm to the trolley. 
  2. When everything’s attached, rewire your motor the same way the old one was, plug it in, and test it out. 

Should I Hire a Professional to Replace my Chain Drive Garage Door Opener with a Belt Drive? 

Since you’re working with electrical, heavy, and possibly confusing equipment, sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals. 

Although installing a belt drive is pretty easy, it might still be confusing or frustrating for some people. 

That’s why it’s always best to let an expert do the job for you. 

They’ll be able to fit everything perfectly to your garage door and fix any problems that might arise from installation.  

If you’re hesitant to replace your chain drive garage door opener by yourself, consult a professional to have it done for you quickly and easily. 

Wrapping Up 

It’s always a good time to upgrade your house. And what better way to do that than to install a quiet and efficient garage door opener? 

You could go from the deafening crashes of a chain garage door opening to a silent, easy-to-use opener controlled by your smartphone. It’s a no-brainer for lighter garage doors and the perfect choice for homeowners.